This past week Delta announced and rolled out E Basic SkyMiles tickets for more than the limited markets they first used during the introduction of this “enhanced” SkyMiles feature. But is this a good thing or a bad thing as Delta always spins everything they offer as something better for members.
As a bit of a disclaimer I will again state I have only ever once booked a Delta E Basic fare ticket. When I search for any ticket on Delta I choose the drop down option to avoid E Basic fare tickets. I even use this ridiculously long fare class option choice string in itaMatrix searches to choose any revenue fare but an E Basic fare ticket (f bc=a|bc=b|bc=c|bc=d|bc=f|bc=g|bc=h|bc=i|bc=j|bc=k|bc=l|bc=m|bc=n|bc=o|bc=p|bc=q|bc=s|bc=t|bc=u|bc=v|bc=x|bc=y|bc=z). BTW, before someone comments, yes you can use this switch to avoid E Basic fares (f ~bc=e).
So why avoid them? First off Delta wants you not to book these. In all their Delta $DAL investor reports and calls they brag up how most, once they see all the restrictions (and I am guessing the scary pop-up box), navigate to a higher fare class ticket.
The next mega reason is the complete inflexibility of these fares. As an elite I want to, on revenue tickets, have the option to same day chance or same day standby plus have a shot at an upgrade. All this is out the window with an E Basic fare. Now when it comes to award tickets you have the same restrictions but you lose something even more valuable (maybe the single most valuable perk) that is, the ability to redeposit your SkyMiles and cancel a ticket (free for Platinum and Diamond Medallions). This reason alone kills Basic SkyMiles tickets for me most times. And there is another reason.
Delta, being Delta, jacks up award prices close to the travel date. It was not always this way as “back in the day” this was one of the real values of holding and spending Delta points for a last minute trips or emergencies. But if we look at the above search from New York to Los Angeles for the next few days vs. a year from now we see the clear difference in award pricing. Oh and do notice there are no E Basic fares until you move further out in the schedule. Thus, again, the value of perhaps booking a last minute E Basic SkyMiles award is blocked by Delta.
The other thing I fully expect to see (and we have already seen in certain markets) is that what once was the lowest level award ticket redemption has become the same price for an E Basic award ticket. Expect this to spread as well as getting your hopes up when you see a “SkyMiles Sale” promotion only to see all the good value tickets are E Basic fares.
So is there ever a time to book one of these restricted award tickets? For me the simple answer is almost never. There is just too much pain inflicted when it comes to award tickets when I need flexibility. I guess I could see the wisdom once you have booked some amazing elite mileage run ticket and need to maybe position to a start city and know you will fly it to burn less miles to get to where you need to be.
You tell me. Would you ever, or have you ever, booked a Basic E class award ticket with Delta SkyMiles? – René